We’ve all thought it. Most of us have said it. Maybe you’ve said, “I wish I had staff!” Regardless, this is a struggle for most in kidmin. Most of the time, there seems to be more work than hours to get it done. The reality is that you’ll never have the staff you want (or maybe need). I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who said, “I’m perfectly content with the staff I’ve been given.” So, if you’re going to get this done, you’re gonna have to think outside the box.

Last month at Orange, I co-taught an Advanced NextGen Leadership Breakout with a couple of peers. Kevin Monahan, the NextGen Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, GA gave an 8 minute talk on creative staffing options. Although he gave this talk in the context of NextGen/Family Pastors, the content is excellent for most ministry roles. The following information is from his talk with my thoughts and a few extra ideas.

Look for an Opportunity in every Staff Transition

When someone steps out of a position on your team, don’t be quick to fill it. The vacancy might create an opportunity. Think about it. 10-15 years ago, one of the first or second positions a ministry leader would hire was an assistant. However, many of the young leaders diving into ministry aren’t filling those positions or replacing them once they become open. With email, social media and other services, they find other ways. Actually, the largest percentage of NextGen/Family Pastors came into their role as the result of a transition. A student or children’s pastor left and someone has the crazy idea that the kids or student pastor can do both. Think about this on your team. When there is a new opening, how could the role be creatively repositioned to be more helpful?

Restructure with Part Time Staff

Trust me, everyone loves a full-time employee. They feel more a part of the team. When someone is full-time, they’re in it 100%. It’s unrealistic to expect a 15 hour a week person to eat, breath and sleep ministry. However, full time employees comes with downsides. Their time easily gets filled with all those “less than essential” meetings that have little to do with their job. If you give them too many different responsibilities, they’ll feel divided/fractured and will do little with excellence. Full time employees are more expensive. Salaries need to be competitive and benefits for one employee alone might equal another 10 hour a week person. One full time position could equal four high capacity 10-15 hour a week employees who can each tackle very different components and the combined efforts of these four could easily outweigh the one person working full time. This would also allow you to work up to a full time position.

Keep it Simple with Contract Staff

There might be several tasks that are so specific that it makes more sense to have contractors help do these things to free up your staff to do the things that only they can do. One of the most common uses of contract staff are musicians/bands. Almost every week we have a band or musician lead worship in our student environments. We’ve got the same people who rotate in, and they do an incredible job.. but they do their thing and we cut them a check. I’ve used 3-4 contract hours a week to manage email and social media for our ministry. For the last three years, my wife contracted 4-5 hours a week to help with the volunteer assimilation process, mostly to keep track of where everyone was in the process and lead a weekly meeting with my staff to help them keep moving forward with phone calls, interviews and trainings. Sometimes it’s better to find a handful of jobs/projects that can be contracted out.

Temporary Staff

Almost every time I have an opening, I hire someone temporarily to fill the spot until we hire the long-term candidate. However, that’s not the only  use for temporary staff. Sometimes you have a higher need for administrative help, like in the 2-3 months leading up to camp or VBS. Maybe you don’t have the work demands to support administrative help year round, but it makes a lot of sense to bring on help at key times during the year.

Volunteer Staff

This one is a little weird, but it shouldn’t be. Once a church is big enough, there is a tendency to want to pay everyone to do anything. However, when churches are small, nearly everything gets done through volunteers. What if you considered volunteers to perform key functions in your ministry. This volunteer might work 10-15 hours a week, get a laptop, a desk and the title of staff – just without the paycheck. I worked with a student pastor several years ago who was on staff at a very large church and he reported directly to a volunteer. Weird, but really cool. Don’t underestimate the people in your church. There are high level CEO type people sitting around waiting to be asked to do something… but the only volunteer opportunities we have are the simple things anyone can do.

Hopefully these options will help you begin to think outside the box when it comes to staffing your ministry. Stop feeling limited by your budget, but think outside the box by hiring outside the box.